Full Life Farm Ethnographic Diary Week 8 Ending 28 February 2014

To catch you up, I want to clarify certain terms that I have been using terms in previous weeks and will continue to use in my writing but with short definitions on the side.  Most are obviously not familiar with these terms so I will include links here and short definitions in later posts.  All of these subjects are of interest, but obviously, I will put my own spin on it all and travel part time to teach others in residence and work and learn in the process.

Cob is a form of earth building (http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/cob-building-basics-zm0z13onzrob.aspx) made of clay, sand, straw.  The most common variety of Cob to most in the United States may be the Pueblo housing in New Mexico and the Missions in California made of adobe bricks.  Cob does not consist of single brick, however.  It is a wholly designed lump that can be very insulated if enough straw is used.  Cob ovens are something I would love to learn to build and use in the near future to determine how to create one to bake artisan sourdough bread.  A pizza-enthusiast friend of mine may even be interested in the viability of cob-oven pizza baking.  Permaculture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture) is small-scale, ecological, organic agriculture used by individuals and small farms to use the land ecologically (with few large tools that uproot the earth in destruction as with large-scale factory farms.  If all of us are to survive and thrive, creating a future for the future, this is vitally necessary.

Intentional Communities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_community) are also known as communes and are not currently what I am experiencing, but ICs are something I am interested in experiencing long-term in the future because I believe a collective atmosphere is more conducive to community that allow each person to contribute and everyone to benefit.  Paul and Terra, the owners of Full Life have experienced ICs and describe them as glorified neighborhood associations that are, by their very nature, too restrictive where nothing gets done because each improvement or addition requires approval from every member. I respect their experience, but I still want to explore this option and may even consider starting an IC with a group of close friends and associates if an ideal IC cannot be found where I want to live (most likely outside of the United States) to start and raise a family.  Wwoofers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWOOF) are individuals who travel and volunteer on farms in the World Wide Organization of Organic Farms network in exchange for space to sleep and meals.

Sunday at the Haven, Pearl, the female pig was brought home in the trailer.  She is 200 pounds, not fully-grown, and refused to lave the trailer for almost twenty-four hours.  Yes, I still realize that everyone’s lifestyle is their own and definitions of thriving and survival vary, especially from farm to farm, but as an increasingly committed vegan, I do find it incongruous that someone would purchase an animal to raise it, not as a pet, but to breed and slaughter.  This is obviously my view and because this is not my choice and I do not take part in the decision, I separate myself from this as much as possible.  As a result, I have not visited Pearl or the resident goats.  On the farm, Paul mentioned that some of the chickens will be sold, and thus, there will a reduced production of eggs.  And the newly purchased chickens that are over 2 or three years old (Apparently chickens have approximately a two year productive egg production output from six months of age.), and not producing many eggs, will be be slaughtered as a result. I asked; I should not have asked as Paul pointed out good-naturedly Friday afternoon.  For his understanding and kindnesses when I am assigned other tasks on those days, I am grateful.  On a completely unrelated note, there will be a kindly, but therapeutic soul arriving to distract me from the animal production.  With the assistance of a friend in one of my classes, a shorthaired female black kitten shall soon choose me.  But she has to be found first amongst the many abandoned litters of kittens in the area.  For the other farm animals I encounter daily, I will eventually incorporate them into my Tonglen (Receiving and Giving) mediation to alleviate the suffering of all beings. I will certainly begin a modified Toglen breathing practice as I walk about daily to accommodate the suffering of these and other beings walking distractedly upon the earth.

Full Life farm uses electricity when it is needed or desired, but it is all-solar generated. The mill, the radio, the power tools, are all powered with solar.  Anything that requires more power than that utilizes the gas-powered generator.  Monday on the farm, I viewed the wood production mill in action for the first time as I assisted Paul in milling lumber for the spring house building.  Roundish logs were cut and squared off, leveled if necessary, to create posts for the house.  I was shown how to brace logs in the mill to avoid slippage and obviously to avoid the spoilage of its use.  Wood was cut from pine and cedar, and, depending upon quality, will be applied to one of four uses:  scrappings (for building temporary shelter of one sort or another around the farm), lumber (for house building), wood chipping (for fertilizer and garden pathways), and firewood.  Because of the abundance of pine around the farm, though it is a very soft wood, is compensated through an increasing of final size.  The loan Cedar log (the only cedar on the farm and dead over a year ago when it was cut) was full of wood-thriving insects in the center.  Although cedar is a good wood to keep moths away, there are other insects that appreciate it.  Given the fragility of the cedar’s center and its beauty and reddish pink center, the cedar may be used for paneling and some outwardly decorative coverings for the house and elsewhere. Once the green, and obviously wet, lumber had been cut, I brushed the sawdust off all sides to protect it against the wet weather and separated one piece of lumber from the next with cut pilings so it could dry properly and the chance for mold would be minimized or prevented.

On Wednesday, it was a little colder and a little rainy.  Friday ended up warming a little in the afternoon but the morning task remained the same.  I mentioned in previous posts that everything is reused or repurposed until in cannot be repurposed any longer that so rarely is anything considered trash, not even if it isn’t used out of a package the first time.  As a result, there is an abundance of needed tools and hardware that have a tendency to collect in every corner of the building and every corner of the farm.  Being a little more comfortable and beginning to fit in as a regular fixture, I mentioned to Paul a few weeks ago that I would like to organize the Play House so that things could be found a little more easily.  He accepted my challenge on Wednesday due to the weather and a slower workday.  As much as I could in three hours I organized what I could in a manner most logical:  organizing the power tools, the hand tools, the oils and fuels, and accessories not otherwise recognizable in other categories (gloves, welding/plumbing, pocket knife tools, and twine) on Wednesday and hardware, accessories (gloves), ratchet sets, twine, linking wire.

The hardware remained to be organized on Friday morning along with some lingering organization of hand tools.  There are screws, bolts, brackets, wire, and an abundance of miscellaneous screws and more screws of various kinds, including the regular Phillips heads and the odd bolt-like heads.  It’s practically a cornucopia of connectors.  It’s not actually finished and I was a little disappointed, but it is much more organized than it was and Paul is grateful that things are generally organized and “findable”.  What remains is some organization of the sockets for a socket wrench and a few other odd items that can be organized later if there is more time. All in all it is better than it was.

I am beginning to feel at home on the farm and at the Haven.  I am grateful that I was interested in and encouraged to take this internship by Dr. Pamela Hunt.  Ultimately, I decided to take this internship to learn some life skills, grow plants and play with dirt. I am learning permaculture and sustainability farming that is designed to respect the environment rather than exploit it. To a certain extent, an internship like this is dependent upon the needs of the individual farm so I never questioned Paul regarding any other responsibilities that I might be interested in.  On Friday afternoon, he asked, and I mentioned two key interests:  gardening and the house building/raising that will obviously increase when the weather warms.  And I mentioned one other interest that I have not thought about since I was a small child and a very young teen:  I would like to learn basket weaving so that I can recreate some of the baskets that I saw my Nonno (the name for grandfather in Italian) make for me on cool summer mornings in Italy. There may or may not be time to do that, but it will be considered and it would be as useful a skill as the others above.

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